I opened the Greenwich Village Studio of Dance on 6th Avenue at 4th Street in 1953. Yuki Shimoda and I were the directors of "Dance Originals". We gave thirteen concerts at the Amato Opera on Bleecker Street, now Circle in the Square. One performance was sponsored by the New York Ballet Club. After that performance, there was a split. Yuki went on to Broadway and the movies and I devoted all of his energies to teaching.
I mention this only because at the same time, up the street on 6th Avenue, Abdulla Jaffa Anver Bey Khan opened the American Ballet Center. Abdulla is better know to us as Robert Joffrey. Gerald Arpino was the co-director. Robert was teaching at the High School of Performing Arts and Gerald taught at Ballet Arts. With friends and students they gave a concert at YM-YWHA, the 92nd Street Y in 1954. Paul Taylor, Louis Johnson, James Waring, etc. all were starting at the same time. Joffrey had an orchestra in the pit and guest artists from NYCB. His concert was professionally costumed. In 1962-64, with the financial help of Rebekah Harkness, the company grew and toured the USSR. It was rumored that Rebekah wanted to change the name from the Joffrey Ballet to the Harkness Ballet. Robert refused and the money was withdrawn. Owning most of the repertory and dancer' contracts, she started the Harkness Ballet.
In 1965, assisted by the Ford Foundation Joffrey made a new debut at Jacob's Pillow. After NYCB went to the Lincoln Center, The Joffrey Ballet Company replaced them at City Center.
(First published February 1990)
My curse for pianists is: in heaven they will have to dance to their own music.
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